The New Year: 2019

Welcome to a new year.

The idea of new connects to beginning, which leaves little wonder at why resolutions are brought up this time of year. People rattle off the expected eat better, workout more, be better, do more. There’s this need to be more for the new year, but more doesn’t need to mean grand goals and a complete lifestyle change. It can be maintianing what’s already expected of onself, adding an additional hobby or resonsibilty into one’s life, or finding ways to live more enriched.

I want to begin to keep myself accountable for each year. I also want resolutions that mattered to be and would enchance my life this year. Let’s start this year this our best foot collective forward.

Financial Goals

I’m going to start here because it’s such a large topic that I’m always hearing from friends and aquaintances wasn’t something they grew up learning. There’s the common I have it in my account so I can spend it mentality that surprises me a bit every time I hear it. I’m fortunate enough to have grown up with parents, especially my dad, who spoke openly and often about personal finances.

Matthew and I are now moving into our 2nd year as a married couple and the year I turn 30, so my financial goals are focused on eventual children and purchasing a home. I have a number set for our minimum I want us to save and an ideal number that we’ll be striving to hit.

Having a goal, any financial goal, is massively important whether that’s a goal of saving $500 or $5,000. If you’re looking for some ideas or best practices to reach a target savings goal, here’s my approach and helpful some resources:

  1. Figure out your monthly expenses. This means rent/mortgage, home bills (internet, water, etc.), other main bills (cell phone, health insurance, car payment, credit card/loan payments, etc.), and needed expsenses (gas, groceries, bus pass, etc.).
  2. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly take-home pay. This will give you a number to work with for monthly budgeting.
  3. Create a savings plan. I normally start with halves. For example, let’s say after subtracting your monthly expenses from your take-home pay, the remainder is $500. Monthly, I’d make my goal $250 gets moved into savings. That gives you $250/month for food, shopping, etc. With that plan, your yearly savings goal would be $3,000.
  4. Take a look at what other people are doing. Want more detail and insight into how to save? Check out the Mr. Money Mustache blog for tips on how to save and retire early or find a library that has Rich Dad, Poor Dad for a comparision between how parents teach money to their children and the results.

Travel Plans

This is, in my opinion, one of the most important experiences a person can have. It shows you new ways of thinking and being, forces you to interact with different people, and does wonders for the spirit. Traveling doesn’t have to mean big, grand schemes that will wreck the saving plan you just made. It simply means going somewhere that’s not in your usual realm of routine

Travel plans for 2019:

  • Visit the closest big town. For example, the nearest to Seattle outside of places I’d usually visit include Portland, Spokane, and Vancouver, BC. Each is maybe 3 hours outside of Seattle and make sure perfect weekend travel destinations.
  • Figure out what makes you want to travel. Do you love food or fashion? How about parks or hiking trails? Maybe you’re more into concerts and figuring out the local scene? Whatever lights a fire of interest in you, use that as your guide in your new places.
  • Plan 50% of each day. I use this way of planning to reduce my anxiety about being a new, unfamiliar place. Planning 1-2 things a day helps give focus and meaning to a trip without leaving me overwhelemed by decisions. It also gives wiggle room to explore. If you’re on your way to a park you planned to visit, and come across a coffee shop or book store or museum you didn’t know about, you’ve included time into your day to go to these newly found locations.
  • Don’t shy away from that big trip. If you have a large trip you want to take either in length or location, plan your budget accordingly and give yourself enough time to save for it without finding yourself in debt. It can be an intimidating thought to travel overseas, so I suggest starting with places you feel most comfortable. As a native English speaker, England and Wales were perfect places to visit for Matthew and my first international trip together.

Reconnect with Nature

I came across an article several years back that posed the question when was the last time your bare feet touched the earth? I think about this often, sometimes realizing it’s been days or weeks since I phsyically connected to anything natural. One of the reasons moving to Seattle was so exciting was its proximity to the mountains and wild, dark forests that captured my imagination so intensely. Then life happens, you get busy, and suddently it’s been over a year since your last hike or camping trip.

These are my personal goals for the year, but please feel free to make them yours as well.

  • Main seasonal events. I want to have at least one large goal each season for how to get back into the enviornment around me. Such as how Matthew and I always talk about getting a group of friends together for a camping trip, but I always let it drop off because we were busy. Being busy is a terrible excuse I often fall into, and I mean to reasses my time use this year. We’re planning on tents, smores, music, and a good group of friends to drink by the fire with.
  • Accomplishing the hikes I wrote down 3 years ago. Excited to live in a new city, I wrote a massive list of hikes suggests from aquiantances and websites. We’ve tackled less than a quarter of this list. This year, my plan is to make it at least half way to three quarters through.
  • Take advantage of local parks. This is a biggie. There are no excuses for why I should say I want to be in nature more while ignoring large parks within walking or bussing distance. Seattle has a beautiful Arboretum that we’ve only visited once. Going hand in hand with that previous busy excuse, planning my time and weekends better, along with putting in more effort to plan, will allow me to take full advantage of what’s right in front of me.

I hope everyone has an incredible 2019 planned. Matthew and I are kicking off the year by celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary with our belated honeymoon in Japan and Thailand. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year will bring me and I look forward to sharing it with everyone.

Outfits Style

Sunday Side Quest

The wind has shifted and summer’s given way to autumn. I love this time of year for providing a climate that makes juxtaposition so easy, the color change of the earth, and the cold that settles in around you like an old friend. The mood makes my heart long for adventures, big or small. In the new season’s spirit, I found some time over the weekend to go on a side quest for one of my favorite treats.

I dressed in one of my preferred autumn combinations: shorts and a comfy top & jacket. DL 1961 has been my go-to denim brand for their edgy style and sustainable practices. You won’t find leather tags on these jeans, which I look out for any time I come across another sustainable jean brand. It’s unfortunate how many eco-friendly brands take a step back with leather tags. DL 1961 uses solar energy to power their facilities, monitors their environmental impact with in-house tech, and have lowered their water consumption, recycling 98% of it, saving 5.2 million gallons of water. They also contribute excess fabric to FABSCRAP, a company founded to recycle the fashion industry’s textile waste.

Gaming Reviews

Game Review: Marvel’s Spider-Man

[This post continues mild spoilers in both the writing and images.]

Happy 1-week anniversary to Insomniac and Marvel’s Spider-Man!

Insomniac stated their intentions to give us the 360 character: moments as both Peter Parker and Spider-Man. I was anticipating the Peter gameplay to be a narrative device but was cautious with how much to hope for. I wanted to connect with him and his life and get a sense for the man behind the mask. Part of playing the superhero isn’t just the crime fighting, after all. It’s the duality of normal life and the extraordinary; the superhero responsibility constantly getting in the way of the much-desired normalcy since with great power comes great responsibility.

I’m relieved and very happy to say that Insomniac delivered the duality.

Events Gaming

My First PAX West

Timing is everything. I’ve never felt compelled to go to conventions like PAX West or look into cosplay or remove myself from my gaming-at-home bubble. Experiencing the stories and characters was personal. Something I did curled up in my own space where I was free to laugh out loud, cry, or huff about the decisions I was forced to make. Playing online and with friends provided a social aspect that I loved deeply, but to go out into the open world and walk amongst the convention hall crowds? That has always been a simple ‘no’ from me.

But timing is everything.

Lifestyle Self-Care

Summer Self-Care

The summer season conjures images of sunshine, cool water, and late nights with friends. This year the reality has been scorching heat, hazed-over days due to fires, evening networking events, and more moving boxes than I expected. With so much excitement and stress and energy, summer self-care shouldn’t be overlooked. What better way than to take a snippet out of my 2018 self-care routine and give it a seasonal twist?

Water has always been my comfort and source of revitalization. I partially blame being a Pisces, but also give a nod to growing up on the Florida coast. For a summer bath, I wanted to find some new bath bombs with a light, fresh vibe. Luckily, I found the perfect options with His & Hers Candle Co.

Lifestyle Our Home

Saying Goodbye to our Fremont Apartment

I moved into my first place with Matthew in the spring of 2014 in downtown Orlando. By that end of the year, we were eyeing our lease and wondering should we take the plunge and move out of state? Is now the best time? and making pro-con lists. There were always reasons to stay and play it safe. So we decided to just jump in head first before we talked ourselves out of it for good. We made lists of all the places we had visited together, tallied their crime rates and bike-friendly scores, looked into the career focuses of each place, discussed where felt most like home, and ended up with a trajectory to Seattle. We ended up with our little Fremont apartment.

Vegan Wedding Dress Winter
Lifestyle Wedding

Having a (Mostly) Vegan Wedding

It’s been 6 months since I married Matthew which feels like a mini-milestone. For the occasion, I wanted to talk about how I incorporated elements into a (mostly) vegan wedding. Since I wrote about how we chose our venueour wedding, and how we’re approaching our honeymoon, this is an element of our day I’ve been wanting to share with everyone as well. Especially since I researched all this for hours during wedding planning: trying to figure out a cake, dress restrictions, venues that will cater to a vegan menu.

The good news: it’s easier than you think!

The bad news: you might raise a few eyebrows with family/guests.

E3 2018 Review Anthem EA
Events Gaming

E3 2018 Review: Top 10 Games

It’s been a week since E3 2018 ended and details are still trickling out about upcoming games. I have so much respect for Mark Darrah, Executive Producer for Dragon Age/Anthem, who has been endlessly answering fans’ questions on Twitter. His enthusiasm has steadied my confidence for Anthem. Who else has their eyes on the Storm Javelin? Of course, this wasn’t the only game I was excited to hear about. My E3 2018 review consists of the top 10 games I’m most excited to play.

Events Gaming

What’s Got Me Hyped for E3 2018

E3 2018 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) is just around the corner! The expo takes place June 12 – 14 in Los Angeles, CA where gaming companies demo games, share new software/hardware/gaming related products, share progress of known games in the works, and – the most anticipated part – announce/tease brand new games.

They started admitting the public in 2017 with Gamer Passes and I have my heart set on going to E3 2019 (with hopefully a Dragon Age: 4 reveal). These passes are not cheap and, as of writing, the remaining Gamer Passes are listed at $249/gamer with the now sold out early bird price at $149. Industry professionals are still prioritized with complimentary passes and early access to spaces/events. 2017 saw over 60,000 total attendees which has caused some reconsideration due to congestion issues at the LA Convention Center. 2018 will see if improvements can be made on 2017, but if not, there may be a venue change for 2019. Whatever happens, I’m making E3 2019 a goal that I’m really excited about.